Esker Therapeutics snags former Principia CEO in hiring spree

Esker Therapeutics snags former Principia CEO in hiring spree

After leading Principia Biopharma to a $3.7 billion exit to Sanofi last August, Martin Babler had options on his next move. He’s since joined multiple biotech boards, and now he’ll steer the ship at Esker Therapeutics.

Babler is now charged with leading the San Francisco biotech as it works on TYK2 inhibitors for autoimmune diseases, with psoriasis up first. Esker emerged with $70 million in May to develop treatments that avoid safety issues that have hampered approved JAK inhibitors and delayed approval decisions for those in development.

The former Principia exec is not the first pharma leader to head over to Esker after a multi-billion-dollar exit. The biotech poached former MyoKardia clinical operations head Jeff Douglas to lead the same role last month. Bristol Myers Squibb shelled out $13.1 billion for its merger with Douglas’ old shop.

As Babler takes the reins from founding CEO June Lee, M.D., he’ll have a fresh management team under him. In conjunction with Babler’s hire, Esker made seven other additions.

C-suite nabs include David Goldstein, Ph.D., as chief scientific officer and head of CMC, and Roy Hardiman joins as chief business officer and general counsel.

Other hires include Kenneth Brameld, Ph.D., head of research; Claire Langrish, Ph.D., senior vice president of immunology and biology; Phil Nunn, Ph.D., senior vice president of pharmacology and project team leader; Mike Taylor, Ph.D., vice president of toxicology; and Victoria Lowell, human resources business partner.

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